Since Luke Alleva started out in Western Sydney, he has appeared in film and television productions, as well as dancing, singing and acting his way across the world to London’s West End. He’s featured in different genres of stage musicals from Man of La Mancha to Rocky Horror Picture Show to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang—and is currently appearing at the Bryan Brown Theatre, Bankstown, in Birdie Productions’ Hot Shoe Shuffle.
What he loves most is tap dancing, especially when performed with the style, elegance—and the clothes—of the 1940s and 1950s. There’s something gracious about the era, he says. “Gentlemen were gentlemen. If a woman walked past, the men would tip their hats!” Currently in Sydney to play Spring in Birdie Productions’ Hot Shoe Shuffle, Alleva will don his own fedora and two-tone shoes for The Dancin’ Man, his all-singing, all-dancing one-man show. There is just one performance at the Bryan Brown Theatre in Bankstown at 2pm on May 3 2015, before Alleva presents the show at other locations and venues (see below).
“I’m going to be dancing up a massive storm,” he says. With the backing of a jazzy four-piece band, Alleva will perform his versions of classics like Come Fly with Me, Make ‘Em Laugh (from the film Singin’ in the Rain), and Mr Bojangles.
“The show is very personal,” he says. “It’s very much between me and the audience. No fourth wall. I’m just being completely me, in the moment. The more goose-bumps I give myself on stage, the more goose-bumps I will give the audience. The more fun I have onstage, the more the audience will smile. And that’s what I want.”
Although his songs and comic shtick and outfits all pay tribute to idols like Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, he insists that “I’m not trying to be them. They are legends and phenomenal. I want to celebrate the songs that made them but, at the same time, give my interpretation.”
The show will be around 70 minutes with no interval. “I’m going to be singing about 18 songs, and doing lots of tapping,” he says, “as well as hat choreography and cane choreography. I’m keeping the classic elements, but I’m going to make it really free.”
When he says “free”, he means he is leaving opportunities for impromptu, “on-the-spot” steps: “In the middle of that style of song, you just can’t help it, it makes you dance.”
He also looks forward to interacting with the audience. “I want to discuss the songs that have inspired me, and also many other people. And, to be honest, my main reason for doing this is to inspire. I love to inspire people—whether they are young, middle- or old-age—to the point where they say, ‘I want to do that. I want to dance, I want to learn how to sing.’ That’s my goal, to inspire people to really want to get up and do it.”
Alleva has thought for “a couple of years” about the possibility of doing a show. However, he says that only now does he have the right combination of experience, know-how and confidence: “You can’t force a connection. It just happens, especially when you do what you love.”
He will take The Dancin’ Man to Wyndham in outer Melbourne in May, and to Mildura in July. “Not being in the city, you get a different audience,” he says. “I think people in the cities are lucky because they get all different types of shows, so I want to bring this show to the regional areas.”
He’s already taught dance workshops in Mildura, and he knows the demand there is high. Nevertheless—with a professional’s commitment to giving the best possible performance—these early shows are a chance to test and refine: “I’ll see what the feedback’s like, and either keep the same format, or change and evolve.”
But there is one thing that he definitely won’t change: his fedora.
Because—as Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra so beautifully demonstrated—a gentleman is never without his stylish hat.
Luke Alleva as The Dancin’ Man will be at the Bryan Brown Theatre, 80 Richard Road, Bankstown NSW for one show only, at 2pm on Sunday May 3 2015.
For details of the performances at Wyndham (Saturday, May 30 2015, 8pm) or Mildura (Saturday, July 18 2015, 8pm) go to facebook.com/thedancinman.